The preliminary hearing in the Mario Montoya murder trial was held in Magistrate Court on Tuesday. Montoya is charged with the revenge killing of Jericole Coleman, 21. The incident occurred on Aug. 22 at the intersection of Ash and Albuquerque streets.
Deputy District Attorney Alan Griffin on Tuesday called an eyewitness to the shooting as the state’s first witness. Under questioning, the witness said he was surprised to see the two men together since the last time Montoya had spoken to him about Coleman, “Montoya just said Jericole Coleman ratted me out and he’s going to get what he deserves.”
The witness had known both men, Montoya and Coleman, since they were in school together.
The day before the incident, the Albuquerque Street residence had been the subject of a drive-by shooting. The eyewitness said that he dropped by to see if everyone was all right, only to find Coleman there and Montoya holding a gun.
Montoya brought the two men into the residence to show them bullet holes. “We went into the kitchen and I wasn’t too comfortable with that. He (Montoya) took us around the house to show how it was guarded.”
When the three men exited the building to the backyard, Montoya pointed to the basement and said: “That’s where I’m going to put my bodies.”
According to the eyewitness, the next thing he knew: “Montoya shot Jericole. He (Montoya) asked me to help him with the body, and I said, ‘no’.” He could see that Coleman was still moving as he ran around the side of the house attempting to escape from Montoya.
When police arrived, the eyewitness surrendered immediately, giving officers not only his keys but permission to search his house.
Defense attorney Anna Marie Green noted that the witness owned a .45 caliber gun and that a .45 caliber casing had been located in Montoya’s yard.
Under cross examination, the witness stated that Coleman had shot it from his vehicle in the past. Green suggested that he, rather than Montoya, was the shooter.
Jesse Davis with the Office of the Medical Investigator described the wounds found on the body.
Criminal Investigation Division’s Detective Kim Northcutt said that he found two .223 caliber casings that matched the Keltec gun found inside Montoya’s mother’s home.
Detective Robert Scribner also testified, telling where he located the Keltec firearm and describing the initial interview. After Montoya waived his Miranda rights, he denied being in the yard at the time of the shooting, stating he had been at his mother’s house.
Scribner said Montoya’s reaction to the news that Coleman had died was odd. “Very out of place, he gave a laugh, or maybe you could call it, a chuckle.”
During cross examination, Green pointed out that during his 911 call, Coleman had said it could have been either Montoya or the witness who had shot him. She wondered why the police had never recorded this “deathbed testimony” during their reports.
She asked about the .45 caliber casing that had found in the yard along with the .223 casings. Scribner said that the .45 caliber casing was old and worn and looked like it had been in the yard for a while. However, he stated that he was going to send both the casing and the gun located at the witness’s house for ballistic examination.
In her summation, Green said, “This is the tale of two guns and the tale of two suspects.”
She accused the state’s witness of perjury and asked Judge John Halvorson to reduce the open murder charge to second-degree murder.
In the end, Halvorson found for the state, saying they had made a case for murder. Montoya was bound over for trial in District Court.